Casio G-Shock MTG-900 Review
The last time I had a new digital watch, digital watches were themselves a new idea. I can't remember what brand it was but I do recall that it had a green LED display and the batteries didn't last very long. You had to push a button to read the thing and it couldn't do much more than display the time but it was pretty neat for its day. Digital watches have advanced just a bit since then. The G-Shock being reviewed here is, without a doubt, the most sophisticated watch I own and Casio has even more advanced models available.
The Casio G-Shock line has earned an amazing reputation for durability over the last twenty-five years or so. The stories of abuse that these watches can take are really remarkable (see this thread at Watchuseek.com. According to the Wikipedia, the G-Shock was originally designed to be at least capable of surviving a 10 meter fall, 10bar water immersion and have a ten year battery life. The basic premise is that the watch employs a series of shock absorbers within the case that keep impacts from damaging the movement (called a module in Casio-speak). In addition to the ability to resist shocks, the case is also sealed against water and dust. As good as those original specs were, the current line goes even further when it comes to ruggedness. If you are tough on your watches, get a G-Shock-plain and simple.
The MTG-900 being reviewed her is a truly amazing piece of equipment. It has the usual G-Shock impact/shock protection and is water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, which should be deep enough for anyone. But, in addition to its toughness, this model has a two features that really make it special. First off, the watch is solar charged. The user need only wear the MTG-900 and its batteries will be kept alive through exposure to light. Like Citizen's Eco Drive line, the batteries in the MTG-900 should never need to be changed. As if that wasn't a nice enough plum though, this G-Shock goes it one better-it has atomic clock accuracy. No, there is no radioactive isotope decaying in the case. Instead, the MTG-900 has a tiny radio receiver inside it that picks up signals from the U.S. Atomic clock in Colorado and resets itself to atomic time automatically four times a day (it can also be reset to the atomic clock's signal at any time by pressing a button should you really be concerned about accuracy). As a consequence of owning a watch like this, I can now honestly say that I really know what time it is for the first time in my life.
Externally, the MTG-900 measures 44mm in width, 50mm lug to lug, and 15mm in thickness. The bracelet is integral to the case and tapers from 22mm to 17mm in thickness. The crystal is made of mineral glass and is recessed below a chrome plated bezel. The stainless steel bracelet of this G-Shock is unusual and very well done. It is not a solid link design but actually looks and wears like one albeit with a lighter weight which actually makes it very comfortable. There are cut-outs on the inside of each link to make adjusting the bracelet's size by removing links very easy and I do wish that other manufacturers would adopt a design like this. The clasp appears to be very strong and well-designed. Like most G-Shocks, the actual watch case is made of impact resistant plastic which on this model is colored to match the stainless steel color of the bracelet.
Timekeeping, as you can imagine with a watch like this, is flawless. For the heck of it, I opened up the time.gov page and compared it with the time on the G-Shock-spot on. The default display gives you the day, date (whose calendar is pre-programmed until the year 2039), month, hours, minutes, seconds, battery charge status and atomic time synchronization status. In addition, to the main screen (for lack of a better way to describe it) the MTG-900's other controls support 29 time zones (set by city location), 4 daily alarms and a snooze alarm, a time recorder that can remember 30 different time records, a stopwatch and an hourly time signal. If for some reason you keep this watch in the dark for extended periods, the battery will last for eleven months without light once fully charged (The watch goes into a power save mode which appears to shut off the display. Pressing a control will wake it up). Lastly, the watch face has a backlight that can operate in one of two ways. It can be manually activated by pressing the large "G" button below what would be the 6 o'clock position on the watch case. Additionally, the watch has a sort of smart light sensor built into it that will activate the backlight in low light conditions if the wearer quickly pivots the watch towards him/herself. Basically, flick your wrist and the light will turn on for a few seconds.
The MTG-900 is one of the most distinctive looking watches I have ever seen. It truly looks like nothing else out there while still managing to look very good, albeit it a high tech way. (One friend commented that it looked vaguely Klingon in style. I wouldn't disagree with that. The styling is both tough and aggressive). I would not recommend wearing a watch like this under a dress shirt (it is thick enough that the cuff button might not close) but, other than that situation, this G-Shock has no downside. It really does it all very well.